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Chadian military 'halts' rebel advance on N'Djamena

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Chadian soldiers have halted a rebel advance in the country's north, according to a military spokesman, after American and British embassies urged personnel to leave ahead of a possible assault on the capital.

General Azim Bermandoa Agouna, the Chad Army spokesperson, said the country's forces had "defeated a group of terrorists who had ventured into the north of the Kanem province", on national TV on Saturday.

He said that the clashes had taken place late Saturday and that the rebel column from Libya was "totally decimated".

However, the search for some rebels still continues.

It was not immediately possible to independently corroborate his claims given the remote location where the fighting was said to have taken place.

The State Department on Saturday ordered non-essential diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Chad to leave, along with the families of American personnel stationed there, saying armed groups appear to be moving on the capital of N'Djamena.

The rebels are believed to be from a group known by its French acronym FACT: The Front for Change and Concord in Chad.

The central African nation that held presidential elections last week has had a long history of rebellions during the 30-year reign of President Idriss Deby Itno, who is expected to remain in power.

At times he has accused neighboring countries of supporting the rebel movements.

Chadian soldiers also have long battled militants from the extremist group Boko Haram.

Some 330,000 Chadians are internally displaced, the majority in the volatile Lake Chad region where Boko Haram fighters are most active.

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